KUALA LUMPUR, July 7 — DAP lawmaker Tony Pua today conceded Selangor had overpaid RM41 million for a piece of land from Talam Corporation Bhd during a debt recovery exercise in 2010, confirming an allegation by MCA’s Datuk Chua Tee Yong.
Despite the acknowledgment, the Petaling Jaya Utara MP stressed that the state had ultimately underpaid the troubled property developer by RM9.1 million for the acquisition of 13 plots of land.
The DAP national publicity secretary today accused Chua of “using selective statistics” that were “deliberately misleading”, and reiterated the Selangor government “has in fact underpaid RM9.1 million for the RM676 million of land taken over from Talam”.
“What is important is that the overall value of all 13 pieces of land taken over by the state as settlement for the Talam debts [is] fair,” Pua told a press conference here today.
He explained the state government had last year appraised the combined value of the 13 land parcels as RM676.1 million. However, independent land valuer Mitra Valuers and Property Consultants Sdn Bhd had assessed the properties as being worth RM685.2 million.
“This means the state government had underpaid RM9.1 million for the properties. Instead of overpaying as claimed by Datuk Chua, we have in fact gained RM9.1 million,” he added.
When pushed to explain why the Selangor government had overpaid RM41 million for 2,263.53 acres (916ha) leasehold plot in Bestari Jaya, valued at RM139.09 million according to Chua, Pua said “one person’s value can be right or wrong”.
“When doing the settlement, some were overpaid, some were underpaid, but overall we underpaid,” he reiterated.
He added he had received a letter from a lawyer representing a realtor last year who was willing to purchase the land at RM90,000 per acre or RM10,000 more than what the state government had paid for each acre.
“Don’t care what Talam paid for it, or what the state government gave its value as; it is what people are willing to pay for it,” he said.
“The best [measure is] what people are willing to pay for the land, and it is worth much more than (what Selangor) paid,” he added.
“At the end, you have to ask: Did the state benefit or lose out?”
Pua then denied again that the Selangor government had bailed out Talam.
“Instead of bailing out Talam, Talam was forced to pay the state,” he said.
On Tuesday, Chua had alleged that the Selangor administration under Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim had bought over Talam Corp’s RM676 million assets to clear the firm’s outstanding debts of RM392 million to three state subsidiaries.
He had further claimed that the RM392 million in the supplementary budget approved by the state assembly in November 2010 to Mentri Besar Incorporated (MBI) was used by the state government for the alleged bailout.
Talam Corp, now known as Trinity Corporation Berhad, had owed Universiti Selangor (Unisel) and Permodalan Nasional Selangor Berhad (PNSB) RM277 million as well as SAP Holdings — a subsidiary of listed company Kumpulan Hartanah Selangor Berhad (KHSB) — RM115 million, equalling a total debt of RM392 million.
Yesterday, Pua pointed out that the debt had been incurred during Barisan Nasional’s (BN) rule of the state and had been considered a “hidden debt” as it was never recorded in the books of the three state-linked subsidiaries.
But after Election 2008, he said the debts were “uncovered” by the newly-elected Pakatan Rakyat (PR) state government, which later immediately commenced action to recover the monies.
He explained that the state government, through the state assembly, had in November 2010 legislated MBI to handle the collection of the RM392 million that the troubled property developer firm owed to the state’s subsidiaries.